Wildlife is getting popular. It is everywhere… pretty girls pronounce ‘tiger’ with a pout in a Page 3 party, the hoi polloi wear camouflage bottoms as they stroll near India Gate looking for tiger masks, everyone who buys a DSLR wants to visit a national park and ‘shoot’ a tiger, publications welcome articles that roar on about environment, and writers are slowly latching themselves to this bandwagon. Nothing wrong with any of this… in fact, it is good that there is such a tiger-fixation in our country. Well, at least we will not stray towards acts that may destroy this world for future generations… so every little pout helps, so to say!
But then I’m not about to write a limerick on pouts… this article is to tell you about the launch of tigers starring in a new novel written by Raghav Chandra (Scent of a Game). Yes, tigers are now prancing around in the form of printed words… and mind you, they are telling us some very interesting tales. Raghav read out an excerpt from his book and it has some heart-rending snippets from a history that no history book will ever mention…
‘1498… Da Gama knocked… at India’s gate,’ Ram recited the rhyme.
‘No! The East India Company – the biggest multinational of its time,’ Sherry said. ‘Why did it come to India?’
Sherry remained silent.
‘No! It brought blood thirsty hunters to Indian shores, masquerading as cohorts of traders. Do you really think the gentle fragrance of exotic Indian spices lured them? No! It was the tantalizing thrill of the chase, the romance of a free hunting zone, where the sun would never set on whatever anyone from the British Empire ever did! Lots of Camparis and Sundowners to drink with perfumed women in laced gowns and fancy hats! Bimbettes, all wide-eyed at these outdoor adventures and dying to be laid by randy hunters! The scent of the game! The ultimate turn-on!’
In the jail library, along with the Sleeman history he had read political reports of the scenario after the revolution of 1857 in the Imperial Gazetteers. Immediately after that was suppressed the East India Company got the full imprimatur of the British Empire. ‘Game hunting has perhaps had a place in governance…’
It will be interesting to get into this sort of a historically significant rendering through a story that is set in 2006. That was the year when the reported death toll was as high as a-tiger-a-day and the Wildlife Institute of India dared to report that no more than 1400 tigers were we had! That was the time when public outcry silenced the protest din that the State forest departments made. Sariska and Panna were bereft of tigers.
This is one book that I would love to read not just because the story takes me through intrigue, romance, adventure and a fascinating trail with history markers strewn all over. I’d love to read this one because the author claims that the book covers wildlife hunting through the ages, talks about the killing of the last cheetahs in the Indian sub-continent, investigates taxidermy, reveals information about hunting tribes like the Pardhis, and looks under the skin of issues that bother wildlife park governance and conservation bodies.
So if you’re the sort who respects wildlife and wants to know more about the issues that are connected to it, you’d want to read this book. As Dr S Y Quraishi mentioned: ‘Environment and tigers are deeply inter-related topics. Protection of one is necessary for the other. Books like ‘Scent of a Game’ contribute greatly in garnering interest in the people and raising awareness. We should be proud of our rich natural heritage, and work towards its protection.’
It is vital to mention here that issues concerning conservation and the protection of wildlife must be adopted by our corporates… and among the fore-runners in this is Aircel. They have been quietly and resolutely working to #saveourtigers since 2008 and have made the public aware that we are fast losing our tigers. This is serious as tigers play an important role in the food-chain. Quite rightly, Aircel has associated with this book as the underlying theme is tiger conservation.
This work of fiction is all about the real business of wildlife… and it makes sense to go and hunt for it in the online as well as offline stores.
27 May 2014
This article was published in ‘The Education Post’ dated 26 May 2014…